Hull Street, Boston

Children keep cool next to a block of ice on Hull Street in Boston’s North End, sometime in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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Hull Street in 2014:

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Not much has changed on Hull Street in the past 80 years – the neighborhood has become wealthier, but it remains predominantly Italian-American, as it was when the 1930s photo was taken.  At least some of the children in the photo were probably either Italian or Jewish, and it is likely that some of them have children or grandchildren who live in the area.  In fact, some of them might still be alive today, and who knows – perhaps one of them lives here on Hull Street, where they can now sit in air conditioned homes to stay cool, instead of hovering around a block of ice.  Everything else is the same, from the houses to the left, to the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground on the right, and the apartment building beyond it.  In fact, the curb stones are probably the same ones that the ice cart rested against.

Galloupe House, Boston

The Galloupe House on Hull Street in Boston, around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The site in 2014:

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Supposedly, this house on Hull Street was General Gage’s headquarters during the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought just across the Charles River from here.  The accuracy of that is somewhat questionable, but regardless, this building was very old.  It was built around 1724, and was home to a succession of owners, including several members of the Galloupe family, hence the name.  It was demolished sometime around 1905-1910, and was replaced with the present-day buildings.

Edmund Hartt House, Boston

The Edmund Hartt House on Hull Street in Boston, sometime in the 1800s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

Houses

The scene in 2014:

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The house in the first photo was built sometime in the 1700s; I have seen three different accounts that give three different dates.  Regardless, it is best known as the home of Edmund Hartt, a shipbuilder whose yard constructed some of the US Navy’s first ships.  Most significantly, his yard was one of the six around the country chosen to build the first Congressional-authorized naval ships.  Completed in the late 1790s, five of the six ships are long gone, but Hartt’s work – the USS Constitution – is still around, just across the harbor from the place where his house once stood.  His house was probably demolished sometime in the first decade of the 20th century, but his gravesite can still be visited, directly across the street at Copps Hill Burying Ground.

Old North Church, Boston

The view of Old North Church, looking down Hull Street, sometime in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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About decade later, around 1909. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

 

Old North Church in 2018:

 

From 1909 to 2018, not a whole lot has changed here – aside from the addition of parked cars in the 2011 photo, the only differences for the most part are minor cosmetic changes.  However, from 1898 to 1909, the scene looks very different – most of Hull Street was still dominated by small wood-framed buildings, some of which dated back to the mid 18th century.  The closest wood building on the right-hand side of the street is the Galloupe House, which purportedly was used as General Thomas Gage’s headquarters during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The centerpiece of all three of the photos, however, is Old North Church, which looks almost unchanged.  In fact, though, the entire spire above the brick section is fairly new.  Although the church was built in 1723, making it the oldest church building in Boston, the spire was destroyed in a storm in 1804.  It was replaced with the one seen in the 1909 photo, which was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954.  Despite that, the church still looks very much as it did on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five.